The Difficulties of Grandiose Delusions: Harms, Challenges, and Implications for Treatment Engagement
Isham L., Loe BS., Hicks A., Wilson N., Bentall RP., Freeman D.
Abstract Background and Hypothesis Grandiose delusions may entail difficult responsibilities and detrimental actions for patients. Recognition of these consequences by patients may provide an avenue for engagement in treatment. Furthermore, when patients carry out actions within the delusional system (“immersion behaviors”) or spend considerable time thinking about their grandiose beliefs this may contribute to the persistence of the grandiosity and further harmful consequences. We, therefore, investigated grandiose-related subjective harm, immersion behaviors, and perseverative thinking. Study Design A cross-sectional study with 798 patients with psychosis (375 of whom had grandiose delusions) and 4518 nonclinical adults. Factor analyses using data from participants scoring highly on grandiosity were used to form 3 scales: subjective harm from exceptional experiences questionnaire; immersion behaviors questionnaire; and thinking about exceptional experiences questionnaire. Associations with grandiosity were tested using structural equation modeling. Study Results A total of 268 (77.9%) patients with grandiose delusions identified grandiose-related harms in the past 6 months and 199 (55.1%) wanted help. Immersion behaviors and perseverative thinking were highly prevalent, and explained 39.5% and 20.4% of the variance in grandiosity, respectively. Immersion behaviors and perseverative thinking were significantly associated with subjective harm, even when severity of grandiosity was controlled. Requests for help were associated with higher levels of subjective harm, use of immersion behaviors, and perseverative thinking but not severity of grandiosity. Conclusions Acting on grandiose delusions, including harmful behaviors and excessive thinking about grandiose delusions, may be routes for clinicians to engage patients in treatment. This could be a starting point for targeted psychological interventions for grandiose delusions.